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Slingshot Dragsters of the
1960’s Photo Archive

Reviewed by Darr Hawthorne

Lou Hart has put out another fine book chronicling the early years of drag racing, this time the simpler and beautiful times of the 1960’s and the daring dragster pilots of the day.

In this 126-page soft-bound book you’ll find page after page of memory-joggers for the older crowd and shots of the men and machines who set the foundation of today’s drag racing.

A lot of the book has action shots, but it’s the candid pit snapshots like those of Marvin Schwartz unloading his Anaconda Top Fuel dragster from the trailer that I find fascinating. Seeing the old firesuits, push cars, fans and trailers is such a stark contrast to today.

You’ll see the old dragstrips, the wide-open spectator areas, long gone strips like OCIR and Irwindale, Carlsbad, Lions and tracks across the country and there’s plenty of top end photography with the “laundry out”. You find the cars of Mickey Thompson, the Snake, the Mongoose, Ted Gotelli, TV Tommy Ivo, Keeling and Clayton, Jerry Ruth, Billy Tidwell, James Warren, Mike Snively, Walt Stevens, and Don Garlits and so many more, all driving the state of the art machines of the day. This from an era when teams consisted of partners getting together rather than an owner with massive corporate support, as we have today.

Many of today’s fans may not have seen push starts other than at a recent Hot Rod Reunion, but at one time in an attempt to safely speed up the events some tracks utilized rollers for starting the dragsters. Yes, there was variety in that era from dual-engined creations to Fling Taylor’s US Turbine-1 dragster powered by a Turbonique engine capable of over 1000 ft-lbs of torque in an engine weighing only 120 pounds.

Cars like the C-T Stroker “Black Beauty” of Wenderski and Winkle featured an early hemi and a Tommy Ivo-built chassis are featured here. An unfortunate accident took Wenderski’s life at Ramona dragstrip.

There’s a lot to like about Lou Hart’s book including an informative forward by Tom McEwen, but like Hart’s other books on funny cars, his attention to detail is what makes these pay off. You’ll find color and black & white photos, candids and action with the variety I like. I’ll keep this book handy as a memory jogger and recommend it to new fans and drag racing geezers alike.


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